This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
Stanley Kramer's "Oklahoma Crude" is a tough, straightforward, well-acted movie about a male-female confrontation, and if it had been made 20 years ago that would have been enough of a description. In these enlightened days of women's liberation, however, all sorts of additional messages have been read into the movie, and a lot of people seem to be reviewing notions that Kramer and his writer doubtless never had.
The movie's female lead, played with a great deal of style by Faye Dunaway, is an independent soul who has staked her life and energies on an oil well. She wants nothing to do with men - not her father, and certainly not her father's hired man (George C. Scott). But she does accept some help, reluctantly, and after a time a relationship of sorts develops between Scott and her.
We have seen this relationship many times in the movies, most memorably in "The African Queen." The buried plot is always the same: Beautiful woman and uncultured man find themselves thrown together in a colorful enterprise. They have nothing in common except the enterprise, they think, but gradually their co-operation breeds respect, affection and finally love. Class barriers fall as the sun sets and romantic music swells.
This seems like a perfectly satisfactory scenario to me and has inspired some of the most interesting male-female relationships in movies. The shared task at least gets the couple out of the drawing room and into some adventure, and the woman is allowed to be competent and not some sort of fragile prize. Clark Gable had a relationship like that with Claudette Colbert in "Boom Town," and of course most of the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn movies depended on it. But now at least some theorists of women's lib believe Stanley Kramer, that most assiduous respecter of causes, has got it wrong. They don't like the fact that Dunaway needs Scott, and especially they don't like the fact that eventually she falls in love with him and gets all mushy (well, a little mushy) just like in all the stereotypes on the trash heap of sexism.